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Amanda Todd trial: Crown draws links between accused, ‘sextortion’ messages in closing arguments

Click to play video: 'Trial for Aydin Coban nearing end of closing submissions'
Trial for Aydin Coban nearing end of closing submissions
The trial of the Dutch man accused of cyberbullying Amanda Todd before she took her own life is nearing the end of closing submissions. Aydin Coban has pleaded not guilty to a number of charges in the high-profile sextortion case. Travis Prasad reports – Jul 29, 2022

A deleted bookmark to a pornographic video of Amanda Todd, records of social media logins and chats found on a pair of hard drives are all evidence linking a Dutch man to the B.C. teen, Crown prosecutors argued as they neared the end of closing submissions in a high-profile “sextortion” case on Friday.

Aydin Coban, 44, has pleaded not guilty to harassment, extortion, luring and possession of child pornography in the trial, now in its eighth week.

Todd took her own life in 2012 at the age of 15, after three years of online torment. Coban is not charged with her death.

“You know there is no witness to say, ‘I saw Aydin Coban typing messages on his computer to Amanda Todd using the alias Tyler Boo or anything like that. Similarly, there is no witness to say, ‘I saw Aydin Coban in possession of child pornography of Amanda Todd,'” lead prosecutor Louise Kenworthy told the 12-member jury.

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Kenworthy said that while the Crown is presenting circumstantial evidence linking Coban to the “sextortion,” when taken all together there is no other inference the jury can draw than that Coban was the extortionist.

Data on drives points to extortionist: Crown

At the heart of the case is data located on two hard drives seized from the bungalow where Coban was arrested in Oisterwijk in 2014.

Among the data on one drive was a deleted bookmark to a pornographic website hosting an explicit video of Todd, the court heard. That bookmark was created two days before one of the 22 social media accounts used to harass the teen sent it to her friends and family, Kenworthy told the jury.

A police photo of the two hard drives seized in Aydin Coban’s cabin which Crown says contain file traces linked to the online extortionist. BC Prosecution Service

Several other aliases used to torment Todd later sent the same link to her contacts, the court heard.

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Citing testimony by RCMP digital forensics expert Sgt. Keith Hack, Kenworthy said one drive also contained a folder in Todd’s name with other deleted bookmarks to Todd’s friends’ Facebook pages. She pointed to Facebook records showing that one of the sextortionist’s aliases had interacted with many of the Facebook friends on the same day the bookmarks were created.

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Kenworthy referred to testimony by Hack and forensic investigators with the Dutch National Police, Kenworthy also highlighted records and “fragments” of file names, logins to social media accounts and even direct messages or chat conversations with Todd found on the drive involving many of the sextortionist’s online aliases.

Click to play video: 'First look at extensive evidence seized during Amanda Todd investigation'
First look at extensive evidence seized during Amanda Todd investigation
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Kenworthy also highlighted how some of those records, along with file folders on the device in the teen’s name, were active on dates matching periods when Todd faced active harassment.

“This is not someone who borrowed a device on one day and happened to commit an offence against Amanda Todd … whoever was doing this, they were the person using this device regularly, they were the user,” Kenworthy said.

Linking Coban to the drives

The case hinges on the identity of the online extortionist: who actually sent the messages to Todd.

Both drives Crown says are linked to the extortionist were found in Coban’s cabin, Kenworthy said, and she cited testimony from the operator of the bungalow park and one of Coban’s friends that he lived there alone.

Click to play video: 'Dutch witness testimony continues at Amanda Todd harassment trial'
Dutch witness testimony continues at Amanda Todd harassment trial

The laptop and desktop computer in Coban’s cabin, which were switched on and logged in when he was arrested, had the same software installed on them as the drives, according to several forensics experts, she said.

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Kenworthy also cited evidence from Dutch investigators that one of the drives and the laptop had both connected to the internet through the same Wi-Fi router in a neighbour’s cabin.

“That’s that router you heard so much about in the neighbouring bungalow park,” she said.

Kenworthy is slated to resume her closing arguments Tuesday when she said she will make further links between Coban and the drives — including information connecting the accused to several specific offending aliases, and how a different online account linked to one of them was running on his PC just five minutes before his arrest.

‘Sextortion’ campaign

Evidence presented at trial has shown how Todd received a series of messages between 2009 and 2012 demanding she perform pornographic web cam “shows” or explicit images of her would be sent to friends, family and her school community.

In several cases, the blackmailer followed through, sending links to a pornography website hosting a video of Todd to dozens of people.

Click to play video: 'Closing arguments underway in Amanda Todd ‘sextortion’ trial'
Closing arguments underway in Amanda Todd ‘sextortion’ trial

On Thursday, Crown prosecutor Marcel Daigle told the jury that a video with the file name “Amanda Todd” was played on a device police seized from Coban’s cabin in the Netherlands. Daigle said the file was played in December 2010, citing evidence presented by a Dutch cybercrime expert, which corresponded directly with one of the periods Todd was being extorted.

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The contents of the video itself were not recovered by police, and the trial has heard that computers seized from Coban’s cabin had software on them designed to delete files so they could not be recovered.

Throughout closing arguments, the Crown has also walked the jury through the contents of the messages Todd received, and argued that similarities in language and phrasing, along with references to previous messages, show they were authored by the same person.

Coban’s defence maintains there is no link between him and the online extortionist. Defence lawyer Joseph Saulnier has said that while there is no doubt Todd was the victim of crimes, the question at trial is who authored the messages she received, which must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

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